Nina’s Tips & Techniques: Plant-Based Milks

I’m overwhelmed with the number of plant-based milks there are to choose from. Which one is best??

I really can’t say that one is the “best.” Best is a personal preference. It’s also based on what you are hoping to get from your plant-based milk. You can judge “best” on taste or texture, others may judge “best” on protein content or plant source. These days there are plant-based milks made from soy, coconut, a variety of nuts, peas, oats, hemp, flax, and more.

Grocery shopping can be habitual – we tend to buy the same thing over and over! To get out my grocery shopping rut, I like to purposefully choose a new variety when I can, so I can taste and test for myself. I pay attention to how each product makes me feel and how it tastes. Does it energize me? Does it make me feel bloated or full? Does it taste awesome – or not? Or, if I’m shopping plant-based milks for nutritional benefits, I look at the labels and compare protein, fat, and other nutrient content to determine which one might be a smart choice for my lifestyle and dietary needs.

Can I use any plant-based milk as a substitute for regular milk in cooking and baking?

From a chemistry perspective – pretty much, yes. There is nothing special about the composition of animal milk vs. non-dairy milks when it comes to baking…in fact pretty much any liquid will usually do. But depending on what the recipe is and how much of it is milk, you may find that the flavor of the dish can be affected. For example – in a muffin that contains very little milk you may not even notice a difference. But in a pudding or a cake that has a large dairy/liquid content, you might notice a significant taste difference. In these cases, I try to choose a milk that is going to pair well flavor-wise with what I’m making. And I always opt for plain-unsweetened rather than vanilla, as sweeteners and flavors can affect the final outcome of whatever awesome, tasty thing I’m cooking or baking!

Featured Recipe: Oat Milk Rice Pudding